NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted in video posted to Twitter on Friday that the league should’ve listened to players’ protests against racism and police brutality earlier, and expressed support on behalf of the NFL for the Black Lives Matter movement.
“It has been a difficult time for our country, in particular, Black people in our country,” he said in a video posted to the NFL’s Twitter account. “First, my condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and all the families who have endured police brutality. We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systemic oppression of Black people. We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.”
“We, the National Football League, believe Black lives matter,” he went on. “I personally protest with you, and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country. Without Black players, there would be no National Football League. And the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of Black players, coaches, fans and staff. We are listening. I am listening, and I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve and go forward for a better and more united NFL family.”
The statement comes a day after a number of prominent NFL players — Davante Adams, Jamal Adams, Saquon Barkley, Anthony Barr, Odell Beckham Jr., Ezekiel Elliott, Stephon Gilmore, DeAndre Hopkins, Eric Kendricks, Jarvis Landry, Marshon Lattimore, Patrick Mahomes, Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson, Sterling Shepard, Michael Thomas, Deshaun Watson and Chase Young — appeared in a video calling on the league to admit it was “wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting.” They asked the NFL to make a number of statements, which Goodell repeated verbatim in his video.
The NFL has been at the center of controversy for its response to the kneeling protests of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick sued the NFL in 2017, accusing the organization and team owners of colluding to keep him out of the league as a result of his protests.
Goodell’s statement also comes after New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees drew backlash for saying in an interview with Yahoo Fiance on Wednesday that he would “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.” He later apologized for the statement.
On Friday, President Donald Trump tweeted about the Brees controversy, saying he “should not have taken back his original stance on honoring our magnificent American Flag. OLD GLORY is to be revered, cherished, and flown high.”
See Goodell’s full video below.